Wallaces Farmer

Previously, school lunches were funded by USDA until end of December 2020.

October 12, 2020

2 Min Read
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USDA is allowing free meals to continue to be available to all children throughout the entire 2020-2021 school year. This move is part of USDA’s commitment to ensuring all children across America have access to nutritious food during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are grateful for the heroic efforts by our school food service professionals who are consistently serving healthy meals to kids during these trying times, and we know they need maximum flexibility right now," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

USDA previously extended child nutrition waivers through December 2020. The flexibilities extended Oct. 9 will allow schools and other local program operators to continue to leverage the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) to provide no cost meals to all children, available at more than 90,000 sites across the country, through June 30, 2021. 

USDA can extend these waivers due to language in the continuing resolution signed into law by President Trump last week.  

USDA is extending waivers through June 30, 2021, that: 

  • Allow SFSP and SSO meals to be served in all areas and at no cost;

  • Permit meals to be served outside of the typically required group settings and meal times;

  • Waive meal pattern requirements, as necessary; and

  • Allow parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children.

Related:Perdue announces changes to school lunch regs

These program flexibilities allow schools and local program operators to operate a meal service model that best meets their community’s unique needs, while keeping kids and staff safe. Additional flexibilities are being granted on a state-by-state basis, as required by law, to facilitate a wide range of meal service options and accommodate other operational needs.

“Northeastern School District has implemented the USDA waiver to offer all students free meals utilizing the SSO program," said Kimberly Alessandroni, Director of Child Nutrition Services, Northeastern School District. "We have been able to offer free meals to all students in-person and through curbside pick-up for virtual students. I am extremely proud of my staff and their flexibility to do their best to keep school meals as normal as possible during a pandemic."

Early in the pandemic, USDA adapted its summer feeding site finder to ensure parents and children would be able to easily locate sites that were providing meal service. With this new announcement, the Meals for Kids interactive site finder will continue to collect data, voluntarily provided by USDA’s state agency partners, about operating sites including location, meal service times, and additional information. 

Related:USDA extends free lunches through end of year

Source: USDA, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. 

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